My background vocabulary is English. Can you help me how to memorize German vocabulary by connecting the words with English?

  • Do a Google search for English-German cognates. You will find many lists of words that are identical or very similar in English and German. Examples: winter-Winter, garden-Garten, mouse-Maus.
    – Shoe
    Jan 30, 2018 at 19:50

2 Answers 2


I think there are two potential answers to your question.

  1. The first answer involves cognates, as @Shoe already mentioned in the comment. There are many German-English cognates listed here and here.
  2. Another option that will take you much further is mnemonics, which in your case is using English for improving your memory of German words. Here is an example from this page:

You can take the technique a little further by compartmentalizing. Break down the word you want to learn into different sounds and syllables. Associate each syllable with an image and these images into a context that will let you remember their sequence as well as give you the meaning.

Let me give you an example: Let’s say want to learn the meaning of the German word wahrscheinlich, which is “probably” or “probable”. It is made up of wahr, schein, and lich.

If you would like to anchor it on your brain, imagine there is a war between pirate ships going on at sea. As fighting is going on all around, you see one of the pirate captains standing on his bridge looking at the scene and saying “arrr!” to himself (because what else do pirates say?). At the same time, one of the crew members is kneeling on the floor in front of him with a rug and putting a shine on the captain’s shoes. His work is made even harder by the fact that a black leech on this arm is sucking blood. Nervously the shoeshiner looks up and asks, “Captain, are we going to win?” to which the latter answers “Probably, mate. Most probably.”

So how do you say “probably” in German? War + arrr! + shine + leech = Wahrscheinlich.

  1. And here is a book that combines mnemonics with German cognates.

When encountering a difficult or unknown word in German, consult a German-German dictionary. Use one that contains the etymology (origin) of the words. This will allow you to notice similarities to English (as many words have the same origin), and allow you to break down the word into its component pieces, were possible. This can help in remembering the word, even when it does not necessarily provide a connection to English.

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